News you may have missed #751

Leonid ShebarshinBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Ex-CIA officer remembers his KGB rival. In April, Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy”, was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment. Apparently, he had committed suicide. Now Milt Bearden, who was the CIA’s Chief of the Soviet/East European Division during the final years of the USSR, has written a piece in which he remembers Shebarshin. He says that, even though Shebarshin was “the closest thing [he] had to a main adversary” in the USSR, the two became friends in the late 1990s, despite the fact that Shebarshin remained a true believer in the USSR until the very end of his life.
►►NSA won’t reveal how many Americans it spied on. Last month, US Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall –both members of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence– asked the NSA how many persons inside the US it had spied upon since 2008. But Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has told the two Senators that giving such a figure of how many Americans were spied on was “beyond the capacity” of NSA’s oversight mechanisms, and that –ironically– looking into this matter would violate the privacy of American citizens.
►►Russian scientist who ‘spied for China’ freed. Igor Reshetin, the former director of Russian rocket technology firm TsNIIMASH-Export, who was jailed in 2007 for selling state secrets to China, has been released on parole. Reshetin had been initially sentenced to nearly 12 years, for illegally selling state-controlled technology secrets to a Chinese firm, and with stealing 30 million rubles (US$925,000) through a scheme involving bogus companies. His initial sentence was later reduced on appeal.


Senior Soviet KGB ex-official found dead in Moscow apartment

Leonid ShebarshinBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Leonid Shebarshin, a retired General of the KGB, who was often referred to as “the last Soviet spy” was found dead in his downtown Moscow apartment over the weekend. Police said a pistol and an apparent suicide note were found next to his body. In a separate statement on Saturday, law enforcement investigators said Shebarshin had shot himself. Born in 1935, Shebarshin was posted as an interpreter at the Soviet embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after graduating from the Moscow Institute of International Relations. He eventually became personal assistant to the Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, who recommended him to the KGB. Shebarshin returned to Moscow in 1962 to attend the KGB’s training school, before being sent back to Pakistan in 1964, this time as an intelligence officer. In 1975, he moved to India, where he became rezident (station chief) of the KGB’s field station in New Delhi. Two years later he was transferred to the KGB’s field station in Tehran, Iran, which he headed through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1982, however, his meteoric rise within the ranks of the KGB was temporarily halted by the defection of Soviet Vladimir Kuzichkin, a Major in the KGB, who escaped to Turkey with the help of the British Secret Intelligence Service —also known as MI6. The British brought Kuzichkin in contact with the CIA, which in turn passed along the defector’s debriefing notes to the government of Iran. This information led to the summary expulsion from Tehran of nearly 20 Soviet KGB field officers, including Shebarshin himself. After a brief period in Moscow, Shebarshin returned to the field, this time to Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, where he traveled at least 20 times. He was in Russia on August 19, 1991, during the so-called ‘August coup’, when a group of hardline communist officials took power in Moscow and temporarily arrested Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. But, even though he headed the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (now renamed to Foreign Intelligence Service), Shebarshin persisted in remaining neutral during the coup, and spent all of August 19 playing tennis at his summer residence. Read more of this post